On a bright bluebird day in February, a group of students from Polaris Expeditionary Learning School took to the slopes of Copper Mountain, armed with GoPros and the task of making a Warren Miller-style ski video.
Though the school has taken students skiing before during intensives — week-long opportunities to explore and practice unique skills not taught in a traditional classroom — the video creation component was new this year.
"We wanted students to go out and ski with a purpose," teacher Mark Biller explained. "This is them going out in the real world and doing something people have jobs doing. They can get their hands dirty and create something unique to them."
The intensives allow students to explore new skills and shake up the normal school routine.
"It gives them a mental break from sitting in the classroom, and helps them bond a little bit," teacher Liz Melahn said. "The more trips they go on, the more awesome stories they have."
During the week, students alternately skied and edited every other day, which gave them a chance to evaluate their shots and get any they were missing during the second day of skiing.
"It was fun to learn who had hidden talents," freshman Matan Birnbaum said. "I learned a lot about working with other people on doing a big project. Plus we got to spend outside, which is fun."
At the end of the week, the Lyric Cinema Café hosted the students for a special showing of the videos. There shouts, cheers and laughter as the mini-movies played in the darkened room.
"Seeing the students' efforts is always the best part," Biller said. "When you give them this creative freedom, they never let you down."